Thursday, April 19, 2018

Diary

I seem to have got out of the habit of writing on this blog. That has partly to do with the arrival of early spring, when I usually have some sort of allergic reaction. One year I couldn't hear properly for some time, and this year I had a long headache. I'm not sure what to make of this, because throughout my life I have had few allergic reactions. When I lived in Oregon in 1975, I reacted to grass pollen, which was at high levels due to local grass seed production. At my current location, which is far more rural, I seem to be reacting to allergens that enter the air when the ground thaws. Not much is growing yet, because the temperatures are still low. Another factor could be that the house has had no warm spot in recent days. We only bought two cords of firewood last fall and ran out in March. Other years we have had four cords, and we would have had plenty left by now. This was partly an experiment regarding heating costs. Technically, kiln dried firewood offers as many BTU's per dollar as heating oil, but the wood stove is actually quite inefficient compared to the oil boiler and heating system. The boiler doesn't let as much heat out through the chimney and it is distributed within the house. The wood stove, on the other hand, loses much of its heat through the chimney, and it heats up the entire chimney. The chimney gets hot and so does the room above the stove on the second floor. The chimney section that runs through the attic also heats that unused area. This winter, the temperature level within the house was higher on average than in previous years, with less firewood burnt, but we will still save about $400. Burning firewood at the current price doesn't save money. However, the disadvantage is that there is no warm place to sit once the firewood has run out, and that may have contributed to my malaise. At any rate, I seem to be recovering and hope to resume more regular posts soon.

In other news, we recently checked local property maps and got permission from our neighbors to walk along Muddy Branch, a creek near our house. It runs out of the Green Mountains and heads north before emptying into the New Haven River on the way to the Atlantic Ocean. At this time of year it overflows onto the hay fields surrounding it and can be a little boggy. There were signs of wildlife, including ducks and beavers. I've planted seeds to grow in our garden and hope that 2018 will be better than 2017. Last year we had a cool August, and the tomatoes never really took off. I'm also looking forward to some more stargazing. We haven't had any clear nights so far this spring, but that may change. On the rear deck, where my 130mm refractor usually sits, there is now a better view because we had a dying maple tree removed. It had been blocking the view of Polaris during the summer, making a polar alignment impossible.

I have also been doing more genealogical research. Since I have few close relatives with accessible records, I have been looking into the families of people I know. I have been getting to the bottom of a mystery within my ex-wife's family. Her mother's mother, Blossom Ellis, was raised by an aunt, and I knew that something untoward must have occurred. I have found that her mother's mother's mother, Mary Kelley, got pregnant at the age of twenty in 1895 and married two months before Blossom's birth. Mary went on to have three more children with her husband. They were living with her parents, and Mary's father, Jacob Kelley, got drunk and shot himself in 1904. Mary and her husband divorced around that time, and the children were split up. Blossom, the eldest, stayed with an aunt, her sister was soon adopted, and two brothers grew up in an orphanage. This scenario makes the present look quite good in comparison.

Regarding William Morris, I haven't been reading the book but hope to return to it soon. Morris isn't the most exciting subject for study, but I am enjoying the biography and finding it informative. Once I've made a little more progress I'll resume commenting on it.

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